• Press Release

On President Biden’s Urgent Trip to Israel, Amnesty International USA Executive Director, Paul O’Brien, Calls to De-escalate Violence, Protect Human Rights

October 17, 2023

(Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“The U.S. government has a moral obligation and a responsibility in this conflict to urgently ensure the protection of all civilians and prevent further suffering, in addition to the important stated goal of making sure humanitarian assistance flows into Gaza. President Biden must use this opportunity to engage with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to save thousands of lives.

“So far, President Biden and his top officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have shared their grief and outrage over the horrific mass killing of Israeli civilians, hostage taking and other serious violations committed during the October 7 attacks, but they have failed to meet the moment to prevent further loss of life. In his face-to-face meetings, now is the time for President Biden to use the United States’ influence and urge the Israeli government to immediately stop the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure and end its siege of Gaza. He must demand that millions of Gazans be allowed to receive humanitarian aid and essentials like clean water and electricity critical to their survival.

“Biden must condemn Hamas for the deliberate killing of civilians and demand that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza release all civilian hostages immediately, unconditionally and unharmed, help facilitate their safe return, and stop the practice of taking hostages, which is a war crime.

“The President must also insist that the US will not tolerate the perpetuation of war crimes or crimes against humanity with weapons it has provided to the Israeli government, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure. He should implement his administration’s own policies regarding human rights and reducing civilian harms and take the necessary steps to suspend the transfer of all weapons.

“President Biden must uphold the US government’s obligation to prevent atrocities and protect the human rights of all people and must seek to urgently de-escalate violence by all parties.”

End notes:

Amnesty International is an impartial human rights organization that undertakes research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of human rights. In the context of armed conflicts, we seek to ensure that all parties comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, which include the prohibition of direct attacks on civilians, of murder, of hostage-taking, of indiscriminate attacks, and of collective punishment of the civilian population. Amnesty International will be monitoring and investigating the actions of Israel’s military in Gaza as well as the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

Amnesty International will also continue to raise attention about the systemic violations that have fueled repeated cycles of violence, and which entail deliberate acts by the Israeli government in violation of international law to impose a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians. These acts, which included forcible transfer, administrative detention and torture, unlawful killings and serious injuries, and the denial of basic rights and freedoms, constitute the crime against humanity of apartheid because they are committed in a context of systematic oppression and domination, and with the intent to maintain that system.

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